Nouakchott, Mauritania Report of what it's like to live there - 08/24/21
Personal Experiences from Nouakchott, Mauritania
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, we were stationed in Helsinki, Finland prior to Nouakchott.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Our home of record is New Jersey, the flight is 18 hrs with the layover Paris. The travel due to Covid has not been easy and it very long.
3. How long have you lived here?
We have been in Nouakchott since August 2020.
4. What years did you live here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing initially was not pleasant but is currently pleasant. We have a very large house but it also has continuous issues due to poor construction quality which is all over Nouakchott due to lack of building codes, etc. Our location is close to the embassy in Nouakchott. The commute isn’t bad traffic is sometimes slow but overall nothing terrible.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Food… ummm well let’s just say at times it is very tricky. Nouakchott is a developing country and very poor. All modern day things that Americans, etc., are used to having (and make life easier) are not always available (trash bags, plastic bags). Food quality is very poor, lack of proper refrigeration makes things spoil quickly along with constant power outages in the city. Restaurants are sketchy, it’s like playing Russian roulette with food poisoning. I personally have had E. coli, salmonella, shigella and the norovirus since I have been here. You must wash EVERYTHING with vinegar and bleach. Produce is hard to find everything is imported from Morocco, Senegal, or Algeria. I suggest growing as much as you can if you have space.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Food delivery is risky as well as restaurants as I mentioned above.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Cockroaches, flies, and water bugs.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Diplo pouch but others use DHL.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Maids average a month 3,000 MRU and gardener 4,000 MRU (comes daily).
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
NKC elite fitness owned by Americans 2,500 MRU.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
French and Arabic. More so French everyone speaks French, seldom does anyone speak English.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
4x4 as a lot of roads are sand.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, but nothing is reliable, and everything takes a decent amount of time.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Mattel phone service.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Only one vet here that does average things, Dr. Bah inside Nouakchott. He does stitches, spay, and neuter. Can microchip and give vaccines.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Conservative Muslim country, so no short-shorts, no tank tops, and no mini skirts. While outside of expat areas cover your shoulders to avoid people starting don’t wear anything revealing in public, as it will draw attention. Most women here are veiled and wear the local dress is called a malefa.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Overall it’s pretty secure just be aware of your surroundings and stay out of heavily populated areas. Be smart.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
We use the health unit at the embassy.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Very dusty and not great air quality.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Warm and dusty year round. August - October is HOT and VERY DUSTY with sand storms and humid when it rains which is about 10 times a year.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Embassy community is strong and close to other expats and welcoming.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Embassy functions and the beach on the weekends.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
There aren't movie theaters or shopping malls or amusement parks so life is limited to what you can do here.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Locals are friendly. The only issues I have encountered is between the white moors and the Africans. They have a long history of issues.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
It’s not good or bad it’s just a conservative Muslim country.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not noticeable except what I mentioned above.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The beach is awesome.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
I ride horses on the beach.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Definitely not shopping is very limited you need to ship as much as you can.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Not really just close to work.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Research Islam and the culture of Mauritania. Be respectful and be ready to lower your expectations. You will not be in the civilization that you know in America or Europe or anywhere for that matter.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, it has been an adventure.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Most valuable personal products.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Do you have any other comments?
Live your best life and make the most of it!